CLEARFIELD – According to the American Cancer Society, more than 220,000 men each year are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer in men after skin cancer.
In January, Michael Case of Woodland became one of those men.
“When the doctor told me I had prostate cancer, I couldn’t believe it. I thought to myself, ‘Why me?’ The worst part was the uncertainty – not knowing if the cancer could be cured,” Case said.
Fortunately for Case and others like him, prostate cancer is highly treatable if detected early, according to Dr. Joseph Pedersen, radiation oncologist for the Nathaniel D. Yingling, M.D., Cancer Center of Clearfield Hospital.
“Men don’t have to die from prostate cancer. Survival rates are high, especially if the cancer is found in early stages. That’s why it’s important for men 45 years and older to be screened yearly by their primary care doctor or urologist,” Dr. Pedersen said.
Early prostate cancer often does not exhibit symptoms; however, when the disease enters later stages, symptoms include:
• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night;
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine;
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine;
• Painful or burning urination;
• Difficulty in having an erection;
• Blood in urine or semen; or
• Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Rose Campbell, registered nurse, B.S.N., M.B.A., administrative manager for radiation therapy for the Nathaniel D. Yingling, M.D., Cancer Center, said prostate cancer is found mainly in men 55 and older; however, younger men may also be affected.
Though the causes of prostate cancer are not well understood, it appears a man’s risk for developing the disease is higher if there is a family history. Smoking and diet are also risk factors.
Two tests are used to detect prostate cancer – a digital rectal exam and a blood test.
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the disease and size of the tumor, according to Dr. Pedersen and, after consultation with both a urologist and radiation oncologist, usually requires one or a combination of the following:
• Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
• Hormonal therapy, which blocks the effects of testosterone on the cancer cells.
• Internal radiation by implanting radioactive seeds into the prostate (seed implant).
• Prostatectomy, a surgery in which the prostate is removed.
Case’s cancer was determined to be Stage II, which means the cancer hadn’t spread. He began hormonal therapy to reduce the tumor. He was also scheduled for six weeks of radiation therapy at the Nathaniel D. Yingling, M.D., Cancer Center.
The cancer center has the latest technology – Image-Guided Radiation Therapy. Because of its improved targeting, IGRT allows for more aggressive treatment of many types of cancer, including prostate, lung, intra-abdominal, pelvic, head and neck.
“IGRT is one of the best technologies any medical center can offer. We can now substantially improve patient safety, comfort and cure rates and protect healthy tissue while delivering more powerful doses to a tumor,” Campbell said.
Other methods of delivering radiation therapy, including Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and 3-D Conformal Radiation, are also offered in Clearfield.
The radiation therapy team includes Dr. Pedersen, Wendy Cline and Susan Knee, radiation therapists, and Fran Manners, registered nurse. All have many years of experience in the field of radiation therapy, Campbell said.
Dr. Pedersen said initially Case, like most people who have been diagnosed with cancer, had many questions and concerns.
“When he first came to see me, he was quite worried. But, as his treatments progressed, he became more relaxed and confident that he would have a good outcome,” Dr. Pedersen said.
Case said the staff’s expertise and professionalism made him feel comfortable.
“Dr. Pedersen and his staff were fantastic; I couldn’t have asked for better care. They explained everything, answered all of my questions and were kind. I had absolute confidence in them,” Case said.
Today, Mr. Case is in remission, but continues to see his doctors for follow-up care.
“As a cancer survivor, I’ve learned to appreciate life more. I’m thankful for every day and enjoy every minute with my wife, Trudy, my children and grandchildren,” Case said.
He added, “Our community is fortunate to have great cancer care right here in Clearfield. I was relieved when I learned that I didn’t have to travel for treatment, especially because it was winter and the roads were bad. Plus, gas prices were high.”
Radiation therapy is provided at the Nathaniel D. Yingling, M.D., Cancer Center through a collaborative relationship with Hahne Regional Cancer Center of DuBois. Hahne has provided cancer care to the region since 1988.
The center also houses Clearfield Hospital’s medical oncology/chemotherapy clinic; Dr. Joseph Padolick is medical oncologist for this program.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about local cancer treatment or screenings, please contact Campbell at 768-2132 or 375-3535.
The cancer center’s medical team is available for community presentations about cancer prevention, detection and treatment. To schedule a speaker, contact Campbell at the numbers above, or Kelley Hoffmaster, medical oncology director, at 768-2132.